Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Hymn

Holy, Holy, Holy!

In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!"

And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

So I said:

"Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts."
Isaiah 6:1-5

Reginald Heber, Words: 1826
Born at Malpas, Cheshire, England, April 21, 1783
Music: NICAEA, John B. Dykes, 1861

Heber's hymn was written specifically for use on Trinity Sunday, and the text paraphrases Isaiah 6:1-5.

Young Reginald reportedly loved books and was brought up in a well-to-do home. It is said that he especially loved the Bible, stories, and poetry.

His childhood was:

"distinguished by sweetness of disposition, obedience and that trust in God's providence which formed through life so prominent a feature in his character...He could read the Bible with fluency at five years old, and the avidity with which he studied it, and his wonderful remembrance of its contents, astonished his parents. Indeed, from the moment he could read, his passion for books became insatiable."

Tennyson considered Heber's hymn to be one of the finest hymns ever written.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy Holy Holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, Blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who wert, and art, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee
Perfect in pow'r, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Reginald Heber, 1783-1826 John B. Dykes, 1861


Rev. Duncan Campbell, Hymns and Hymn Makers (London: A. & C. Black, Fourth Edition, 1908), quoted verbatim by Louis C. Elson, ed., Modern Music and Musicians, Part 2: Encyclopidia (New York: The University Society, 1912)

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